The felicity conditions for speech acts can be supplied, in part, by hearers and bystanders, as Austin and Lewis showed, in their work on speech acts and accommodation respectively. This has implications for counter-speech: efforts to fight harmful speech with more speech. Counter-speech can work by retroactively ‘undoing’, rather than refuting, speech acts. Despite the handicaps on counter-speech, a hearer can sometimes block its presuppositions, including presuppositions about its authority. This can prevent the presuppositions’ accommodation, block the speech act’s felicity conditions, and retroactively disable its force.The argument brings out an unnoticed dimension to counter-speech, and to the time-travelling powers of ordinary hearers and bystanders.
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